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The Defense Jobs Argument Isn’t Working Anymore

“The history of Pentagon spending is rife with examples in which programs have been saved from the budget cutter’s axe because of the jobs associated with them.  From the revival of the B-1 bomber in the 1980s to the current effort to keep the M-1 tank line open, jobs in key states and districts have provided powerful leverage to contractors seeking to save or extend major procurement programs. But those days may be coming to an end,” Defense One reports.

“For the past two and one-half years, the Aerospace Industries Association, or AIA, has repeatedly played the jobs card in an effort to spare the Pentagon budget from automatic cuts called for in 2011’s Budget Control Act.  The association sponsored studies claiming that a million jobs would be eliminated if sequester level cuts took effect at the Pentagon, and spread the word far and wide.  But despite the partial reprieve supplied by December’s budget agreement, the bulk of the cuts called for by the Budget Control Act are taking effect and the widespread economic damage claimed by the AIA has not occurred. The jobs card didn’t work, and the massive job losses never materialized.”

“Even if the jobs argument didn’t save the Pentagon top line from reductions, it can still play a role in determining the future of specific weapons systems. The determination of the Congress to continue funding for programs like the M-1 tank and the Global Hawk is evidence that job-driven pork barrel politics is a alive and well. But even in fights over specific programs, the jobs argument isn’t as powerful as it used to be.”

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